Gov. Jerry Brown's pick to lead the California State University Board of Trustees could soon be out of a job.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said today that he will not schedule a floor vote on the confirmation of CSU trustee Herbert L. Carter without a commitment for the Republican support needed to approve his nomination.
"If there are no Republican votes, I will not be interested in having a major floor fight," the Sacramento Democrat told reporters today. "The votes are either there or they're not there."
Carter, who has served on the board since 2004 and now chairs the board, faces a Wednesday confirmation deadline to complete his current term. His confirmation has drawn controversy because of the board's move last year to hike a campus president's compensation package and approve tuition increases at the same meeting.
Steinberg said he is confident that Carter's performance at a "vigorous" Senate Rules Committee hearing won him support of the 25-member Democratic caucus.
"He acknowledged some of the issues relating to the raise for a university president and fee increases and I think he expressed some regret," Steinberg said. "I think he's a fine man, very serious and he's very diligent, and he brings years of experience as a teacher and (an) active citizen to the job. We support him."
But he said he has received no indication that the two Republican votes needed to hit the two-thirds approval requirement for CSU trustees will emerge by Monday's floor session, the last day the full Senate is scheduled to meet before Carter's Feb. 29 deadline.
Carter did not receive any Republican support during the confirmation hearing earlier this month. Senate GOP leader Bob Huff signaled last week that his caucus would oppose Carter's nomination, saying in a statement that he cannot recommend a yes vote until "Californians see real evidence that the CSU Trustees are making the tough decisions needed to control escalating costs that are being passed onto students and their families." Huff's spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the current stance of the caucus.
Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said the governor believes "strongly that Dr. Carter deserves the consideration and support of all senators." He declined to predict the outcome of next week's deliberations.
"Senator Steinberg's characterization of the situation is accurate," he said. "I think our stance is pretty clear at this point that Dr. Carter has a long and distinguished record of service and commitment to higher education. He deserves consideration and support of all senators, regardless of party affiliation."
Editor's note: This post was updated with added quotes from Evan Westrup.